Bill on higher monthly old-age pension still pending
This is to clarify some points raised in a letter by Godofredo O. Peteza Sr., a World War II veteran and the district president of the Veterans Federation of the Philippines (VFP)-Camarines Sur (“Don’t vote for antivet solon,” Opinion, 11/13/15).
First and foremost, Ernesto G. Carolina, our administrator, did not announce during the VFP Supreme Council meeting, held in May 2013, that World War II veterans would receive a monthly old-age pension of P20,000 effective January 2014. He merely informed the attendees about the status of House Bill No. 2367 (principally authored by Rep. Herminia B. Roman, chair of the House committee on veterans affairs and welfare) that seeks to increase the monthly old-age pension of World War II veterans from P5,000 to P20,000.
Notably, HB 2367 has been approved at the committee level, and it was subsequently referred to the committee on appropriations. It was further referred to the Department of Budget and Management for the determination of its funding source.
Secondly, we would also like to clarify that the “one-time, after-death P20,000 burial benefit” mentioned by Peteza is an altogether different benefit embodied in House Bill No. 694, a separate bill that was also introduced by the committee on veterans affairs and welfare. This bill has been signed into law (Republic Act No. 10649) by President Aquino on Nov. 27, 2014. It took effect on Dec. 12, 2014. Hence, there is no truth to the reports that a certain senator pushed for the passage of RA 10649 in lieu of the proposed increase in the monthly old-age pension of war veterans.
To emphasize, the increase in burial assistance from P10,000 to P20,000, which is already in effect, is distinct and separate from the proposed measure to increase the old-age pension of World War II veterans from P5,000 to P20,000. HB 2367 is still pending in Congress.
We wish to inform that the House committee on veterans affairs and welfare, chaired by Representative Roman, continues to work very hard for the funding of the proposed increase in the monthly-old age pension of war veterans. We, at the Philippine Veterans Affairs Office, have high hopes that with the groundswell of support at both the House of Representatives and the Senate, HB 2367 will eventually be passed into law.
The concerned legislators understand that our veterans are already in the twilight of their years, and that the present monthly pension they are receiving is grossly inadequate to support their daily needs given their deteriorating health. Hence, they are closely coordinating with the DBM to be able to fund the P1.8 billion needed to support this measure which will benefit the close to 12,000 remaining World War II veterans.
—MARIA JUANITA S. FAJARDO-RIVERA, public affairs officer, Philippine Veterans Affairs Office
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